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Feathered Friends – Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird by Richard Fray

Anna’s Hummingbird by Richard Fray

Any hummingbird feeder hung in urban Tucson probably has a resident Anna’s Hummingbird defending it from all intruders. This beautiful and rather large hummer is a common sight in back yards all over the city and the male’s striking rosy-pink flashing head plumage makes it a compelling reason to keep your feeders full of nectar. In the first half of the twentieth century this bird’s breeding range was largely limited to the south western portion of California. Then as the century progressed parks were created and gardens were planted and the birds steadily expanded their range north into Oregon and east into Southern Arizona. There are some Anna’s Hummingbirds that live in Tucson year-round but from Dec-May their numbers increase as additional birds come to urban Tucson to nest and take advantage of the abundant flowers and feeders our yards provide. This time of year you may also witness the spectacular courtship display of the male Anna’s Hummingbird right in your yard. The male flies to a high point above an available female and then dives straight down and suddenly pull up right over her and create an explosive popping sound. It has recently been conclusively shown that this sound is actually being made by special feathers in the bird’s tail that produce this sound when air passes over them at just the right velocity. It is an amazing thing to witness and will be happening all over Tucson all winter and early spring.
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